R.D. Blumenfeld on Drinking Ways. Part II.

Lager Takes a bow

Although beer did not figure directly in my Part I, I had a feeling R.D. Blumenfeld appreciated good beer. His memoir R.D.B.’s Diary: 1887-1914 published by William Heinemann in 1930, confirms this.

It’s 1890 and R.D.B. is in Paris. He passes a restaurant where Munich beer is consumed, which he notes is unusual. He explains that 20 years after their ignominious defeat by Germany, the French try to sidestep anything German, so a German beer offering is exceptional.

Certainly cultural manifestations such as Wagnerian opera were shunned. Finally Blumenfeld frequents, on the advice of a friend in Paris, another place where German beer could be had, although it was described as Viennese.

This suggests Blumenfeld’s predilection for “the real thing”. Having German-Jewish roots probably helped, as a cultural orientation to good beer would have accompanied the family to America.

I must say though, the best anecdote on beer in the book concerns American beer. In New York in 1900 Oscar Hammerstein I related to him the successive uses of his (first) Manhattan Opera House, built 1893:*

Hammerstein told me yesterday of his Manhattan Opera House venture in 34th Street, New York, which began with opera, changed over to drama with Mrs. Bernard Beere in “As in a Looking Glass,” and ended as a music hall and drinking place. “First,” he said, “it was Meyerbeer. No good. Then it was Bernard Beere. Also no good. Now it is Lager Beer. Great success!”

….

*Hammerstein I built many theatres in New York, but only two were named Manhattan Opera House.

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